Experience produces solid first practiceUND opened its fall camp Friday morning at Memorial Stadium. The expected first-day mistakes, however, were held to a minimum. Crispness was the word of the day.
By: By Wayne Nelson, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
GRAND FORKS - UND opened its fall camp Friday morning at Memorial Stadium. The expected first-day mistakes, however, were held to a minimum.
Crispness was the word of the day.
“We looked better today, at times, than we did all spring,” quarterback Braden Hanson said.
UND coach Chris Mussman couldn’t find much fault with the day, either.
“It’s maturity,” he said. “We have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football. And it shows in practice. Offensively, we weren’t jumping offside. The first couple of units on both sides of the ball looked good. They were on their feet; they weren’t on the ground much.”
The crisp practice also may relate to the new era of football at UND. The program’s first encounter with the Big Sky Conference is weeks away.
“There was a little more sense of urgency,” Mussman said. “Our guys understand what we’re up against. As we go through the (Big Sky) schedule, the top five teams in the league are on it. Our guys are well aware of the challenge and they’re looking forward to it.”
Senior defensive end Ross Brenneman is looking forward to the new league. And even after four previous fall camps, he’s doesn’t mind the demanding practices they produce.
“I’ve always liked fall camp,” he said. “It never gets old. I like to practice.”
UND will practice again today at Memorial Stadium. Its first scrimmage is set for next Saturday morning.
UND opened its fall camp in relative good health.
Notable players who didn’t work out included junior offensive lineman Joe Kleason and wide receiver R.J. McGill — last season’s second-leading receiver.
“Joe will probably be out for the first month of the season, at least,” Mussman said.
The upside to that injury, however, came in the spring when UND had the chance to develop depth on the offensive line. Another starter on the offensive line, Emmett Lynch, also missed spring drills but the senior was practicing Friday.
“R.J. tweaked his hamstring the other day while working out so we backed off on him,” Mussman added. “And (safety) Baylee Carr’s back has been bothering him. But for the most part, we’re as healthy as we’re going to be at the beginning of the year.”
With each fall camp comes a player or two who doesn’t report.
It’s no exception with UND.
In addition to quarterback Joey Bradley’s decision to leave the team, freshman recruit Joe Schobert, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound linebacker from Waukesha, Wis., did not report. He will walk on at Wisconsin after turning in an impressive performance during an all-star game this summer that caught the Badgers’ attention.
“That’s his dream,” Mussman said.
Also, safety B.J. Fifita did not return. He elected to serve a two-year mission for the Church of the Latter Day Saints. He was a redshirt freshman last season.
Area to watch
Mussman said he would like to keep the redshirts on all incoming freshmen.
With Bradley’s departure, however, that may not be possible as injuries could dictate the shirt coming off freshmen quarterbacks Joe Mollberg or Ryan Bartels.
“It’s all up for debate,” Mussman said. “We’d like to redshirt everybody but at this level sometimes you don’t have that luxury. Anyone that can help us will be on the field.”
He said the safety and linebacker positions are two areas where redshirts may be pulled.
Nelson is the sports editor at The Grand Forks Herald